Meet your new Bartender of the Year

Toronto’s Jacob Martin wins World Class Canada with a breathtaking final at Vancouver Cocktail Week

Ontario’s Jacob Martin is the World Class Canada Bartender of the Year. Living Room Creative photo

World Class Canada celebrated its 10th anniversary in the best possible way—with a blowout final at Vancouver Cocktail Week that saw Jacob Martin of Toronto’s Bar Banane take home the title of World Class Canada Bartender of the Year 2023.

“We were thrilled to partner with Vancouver Cocktail Week and had many events running in the city throughout the week as well as the Competition,” says Michael Armistead, who oversees the Diageo World Class Canada Bartending Competition as National Onpremise, Reserve and Sponsorship Manager. 

Members of the Diageo international Reserve team—including Lynnette Marrerro, creator of Speed Rack; Dennis Tamse, Global Distillery Ambassador for Ketel One Vodka; and Tim Phillips-Johansson, World Class Global Bartender of the Year 2012 and now global brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker—flew in for more than 25 events that included the Punch Brunch at Botanist, Oysters and Scotchtails at Bar Susu, pop-ups, guest shifts, dinners and educational sessions. 

Most importantly, Armistead points out, “We had 10 leading bartenders in the country competing for the title of World Class Canada Bartender of the Year at seven challenges including the 10th anniversary public event at the Vancouver Club.” 

Those 10 finalists were: from B.C., Kate Chernoff, Harry Tham and Emily Vey; from Alberta, Xavier Aleba, Sam Clark, Steven Jorgensen and Adrian Roque; from Ontario, Benjamin Kingstone and  Jacob Martin; and, from Quebec, Daphnée Vary Deshaies.

Everything came together at the cocktail week closing gala with the announcement of the final four—Chernoff, Clark, Martin and Vary Deshaies—who then competed in a breathtaking speed round final in front of a crowd of enthralled partygoers. Because it was the 10th anniversary, each bartender had to make 10 drinks, which raised the ante (and the stress levels) to unprecedented heights.

Now, Armistead says, “Jacob Martin of Bar Banane, this year’s champion, will go on to compete in Sao Paulo in the global final at the end of September.” Between now and then, Armistead’s team will be working hard to get him ready to compete, knowing that all eyes will be on Canada. 

After all, since Canada began participating in the world’s biggest, most prestigious cocktail competition in 2013, our bartenders have consistently placed in the top 12 and twice won the global title (Vancouver’s Kaitlyn Stewart in 2017 and Edmonton’s James Grant in 2021) with a runner up, Vancouver’s Jeff Savage, in 2019.

“The challenge for us is how the program evolves each year,” Armistead says. Already he has World Class Studios planned for fall right across the country, and he has a plan for next year’s competition. Not that it’s just about the competition any more—it’s also about establishing bartending as a serious career.

“Look at how far we’ve come in the past years. Look at how the industry has grown,” Armistead says. “I like to think World Class has played a small part in that.”

Diageo World Class Canada,

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